Menstrual blood for colouring runes?
The usage of menstrual blood for colouring/reddening/empowering runes is a common practice amongst Neo Pagans today but is grossly incorrect and not in keeping with tradition. Consider that the Havamol tells us, "knowest how one shall sacrifice". Ask yourself, what element of sacrifice is present when you use end of cycle blood that is more akin to a natural body cleansing function? No heathen today that I know would use menstrual blood for reddening runes. Instead we all cut ourselves and offer our freshly sacrificed blood in keeping with lore. Try to remember also that in the dark ages when these arts were believed to have been practised, what seems to be a simple cut can have serious heath implications to the person who cut themselves. Today you would simply go to a doctor or a hospital to get some antibiotics and treatment for your injury. In the dark ages, it was possible that infection may set in and you got very ill or even died!
Consider also that menstrual blood and menstruating women are taboo in some way in nearly all cultures. Taboos are created to control things, which are considered powerful or dangerous. The ability of women to bleed without being wounded, and to bleed in a predictable rhythm, like the cycles of the moon, combined with the ability to give birth, has been considered a kind of power by people all over the world since we became human. And whether the women were feared, worshipped or envied because of their periods, taboos were developed to protect society and the woman against this incredible menstrual power. We no longer think of menstruation as a kind of power (although maybe we should), but we still hold on to some very old menstrual taboos.
When looking back at the history of menstruation is almost never mentioned as a good thing. Most old medical and religious writings on menstruation discuss it as shameful, unclean or unhealthy. These beliefs come from very ancient menstrual taboos. Ancient Greek and Roman writers described menstrual fluid as powerful and unclean.
For example, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder described menstrual fluid as having these powers:
Most of the writing we have from the past is written by men, and of course, men don't have periods. So it should not be surprising that they thought menstruation was awfully strange, since they did not bleed that way. It had to be normal not to have periods (after all, they didn't), and they searched for the reasons women bled.
They believed there had to be something inferior about the way women are put together. Or they thought women bled because they were cursed by God. Some thought that women just had too much blood, so some of it had to come out monthly. Others thought women menstruated because they didn't exercise or get out of the house as much as men did. They thought the blood came out of the womb (uterus) because the womb was considered the weakest organ in the body, so it was the place the blood was most attracted to, like a hole in a bucket.
At one point they thought the womb could move around inside the body, even go up a woman's throat, and cause all sorts of strange medical problems. This was known as the "wandering womb." These strange stories go on up to the present day. As late as the 1960's, medical guidebooks suggested that women should not take baths or exercise during their periods. If menstruation has always been feared or misunderstood, how do we learn to feel good about our bodies when we bleed?